Last weekend I had the pleasure of going home to visit my family, I haven’t seen them in a few months and I really missed them. My mom and I got to talking and she gave me a great idea of writing a piece about all my really good customers, the people who come in every day. I have three favorite customers, and I always sit there and listen to what they talk about to other people. I sit and imagine what their lives are like based on how they talk to others. I will not be using any names, I find that rude, instead I will be using their drink orders. I know those by heart.
-Mr. Venti, Non-Fat, Sugar Free, Decaf, Mocha.
My mocha man, he comes in every morning and orders pretty much the same thing every time. He always leaves a dollar every time he comes up, and he comes up about four times in the mornings. I love working when he is there. He sits in the middle, largest table with his fancy lap top and types for a few hours, week day. Occasionally he will talk to some of the people around him. Mocha man is so incredibly nice it’s hard to be angry when he is around. He has a way of making you think, smile, and getting you to open up. He was a former principle at an elementary school, and he will always tell you going into education is bad, unless you are dying to teach. His son went to Stanford University, and now visits Mocha man once a month. Mocha man wears a wedding ring, but I have only met his wife once, and she is unhappy. She smiles but her smile doesn’t reach her eyes. Mocha man tells me he is a writer, he retired and did something to make him happy. I admire him for this, how many people can say they are doing what they love? Not many.
-Mr. Brownie and Coffee.
Now all of my coworkers think Brownie is one of the meanest people who come to the cafe, but I don’t. I see a man who has a bad marriage but stuck around for his kid, a man whose wife doesn’t remember him, and a man who needs to escape the sadness for an hour every day. He is grumpy, and old, he sits in the farthest table, near the window, to play Sudoku. He walks in , and right away I get his small coffee ready and his brownie on a plate with a napkin and a fork. I watch him struggle with his little Sudoku books, I watch as he looks at the time, I watch him breathe a huge unhappy sigh, and I watch him bring his dishes to me. He sits the plate down, pushes his glasses up his nose, and does a little ironic smile, thanking me for making his life easier. But only for that brief hour. My coworkers see a grumpy man, I see a sad man who needs some chocolate.
-Mrs. Grand, Soy, Latte.
This lady probably doesn’t speak much English, and I think she orders the only thing she knows how to say really well, and I am okay with that. I complimented her once on her purple, sparkly sweater, and ever since that day she comes in wearing the same exact sweater, ordering the same exact drink. Every day around 3pm I see her walk in from the left side of the parking lot, and I go to the espresso machine to make her drink so it is ready for her. Every other week she walks around the book floor, but never comes back with any books. She sits on the left side of the café, near a big window, and stares outside. I asked her what her nationality was, and she told me Chinese. She has a wedding ring, a plain, small band. She has a very short hair cut, and very sharp teeth. I always watch her wondering what she thinks about? I know she does not like men serving her, she stares with disgust at my coworkers and I can tell she is uncomfortable. I wonder if that’s a sign of what happens at home, or if that is how she was raised. At 4:30pm she grabs her purse, sometimes she waves to me, other times she just walks out of the café. I see her go to her black little car, and I watch as she pulls out and drives away.
These are the best customers I have, they keep me sane, I know when they come in, I know what they will order, and how they will act. The daily repetition keeps my day in sync, they are now part of my daily routine. I’m not sure if my coworkers pay as much attention as I do, or if it is just me that watches so closely. I don’t assume I watch and I listen. I look into their eyes and try to see what they see. I try to be as understanding as possible, and try to show how much I appreciate them every day I work.